Thursday, January 15, 2009

Inaugural Ball Invite

Got an invitation to "The Civil Rights Presidential Inaugural Ball” today, not from the party I have supported for decades obviously. No, this one came from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. What I have done to merit such a distinction, I don't know. Tell you the truth, I'm tempted. What better place to dance the night away and mark the historic occasion?

I'm actually quite touched, but I must send my regrets, not for the reasons you might believe. As a minority myself, I can begin to appreciate what the swearing in of an African-American president means to many, many Americans. In fact, it is the only saving grace of the moment.

No, I must demur because not too far away, there are many, many human beings of African descent who live under conditions that would make the Jim Crow South seem idyllic. Yet I have never ever heard a single African-American Civil Rights organization voice even the slightest protest at the treatment of their brethren in Cuba. As a matter of record, with the exception of Al Sharpton, many of the most strident voices for civil rights in this country, many who denounced Apartheid in South Africa, have served as apologists and/or willing stooges for a regime that oppresses its brothers and sisters.

When the NAACP launches a campaign to publicize the plight of Cuban political prisoners, and the SCLC expresses its solidarity with Elias Biscet, stands in support of Antuñez, Coco Fariñas and others, then I will gladly celebrate their moment of triumph. Until then, I must regretfully decline their gracious invite.

What if?

What if instead of “Bush Takes Parting Swipe at Communist Cuba,” this headline read “Departing President Affirms Support for a Free Cuba.” Then, what if the first paragraph read


President George W. Bush took a parting swipe at communist Cuba on Tuesday, saying it was a cruel dictatorship that had responded to U.S. appeals for democratic reform with more repression of its people.


President George W. Bush reaffirmed his support for a free Cuba on Tuesday. Referring to a long history of human rights abuses in the island nation, he described the present regime as a cruel dictatorship that has responded to U.S. appeals for democratic reform with more repression of its people.

Later on,

Obama, a Democrat, has pledged to soften restrictions on family travel and remittances but said he would keep the embargo as leverage to influence changes in the one-party state.

He has said he would be ready to pursue diplomacy with Cuba's leaders if conditions were right, something Bush has resisted doing.

could become

He has said he would be ready to pursue diplomacy with Cuba’s leaders if conditions were right, a position maintained by a number or U.S. administrations and repulsed by the regime in Havana.

What a difference a few words can make in this Reuters article by Matt Spetalnick, edited by Eric Beech.

(Corrections and additions in boldface mine.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Questionable Monday Turn of Phrase

Ponzi Scheme? Using the Madoff swindle as a starting point, John Stossel gives us a scary glimpse into the future when the largest of the Ponzi schemes is yet to unravel: Social Security and Medicare. To wit, according to the article, the government is simply passing along our current contributions to present retirees. What happens when the boomers retire? Hint: make your own provisions. Read it at Townhall here.

Unintended Consequences? Michael J McFadden, author of Dissecting Antismokers' Brains, writes a letter to the FT which presents a novel response to banning smoking in British pubs, as in banning smoking can be harmful to workers' health. Sounds like a stretch, but here it is.

Pottery Barn Rule? From the New York Times comes an interesting look at the history and perils of the Wedgwood company. The grande old dame of the tabletop world has stumbled financially. For those of us with a sentimental attachment to the company, it's kinda sad. Wish them luck.

Salutary Fare? Also from the Times comes a group of less popular healthful foods. I'll skip the prunes and beets, thank you.

Vague Rumblings? Two items here. First is a follow up to the Yellowstone story here. Then in a truly sad development is the news that one of my heroes is ailing. Jack Kemp is reportedly suffering from cancer. Little more news than that. Read it here.